Hey everyone, let's get 'er started.
I kinda feel Metta might come back soft, post suspension. You? Just worried that this may have undone all the progress.
Dave: That is an interesting subplot, Metta's eventual return. He could come back out of rhythm and hesitant. But on the flip side, he may also try to overcompensate for lost time by playing too much like a bull in a china shop. Like everyone on the team over the last two games, he need to make sure he stays in his lane.
Hopefully, though, MWP can pick up where he left off. The guy was in a nice flow before making that stupid mistake with the elbow.
Hey guys- Do you think that the latest MWP incident increases his chances of getting the amnesty before next season?
Mike: It certainly doesn't "help" MWP's chances of staying with the team. Given how bottom-line conscious the team has clearly become, it wouldn't surprise me if they used the amnesty provision this summer, and the clear candidates would be MWP or Steve Blake. From a pure basketball perspective, Blake would be the obvious choice. Even with the highs and lows, Metta has outplayed him by a long shot. But MWP also makes more money and this is the second consecutive season he's been suspended in the playoffs. They might decide he's just too unreliable, and opt to resign Ebanks and Barnes, perhaps even for the same combined price as MWP's salary.
It appears that Matt Barnes has lost his shooting touch since his ankle sprain. Has he acknowledge his this in interviews? How healthy is he now?
Steven: Barnes hasn't acknowledged any correlation between his ankle and his shooting, but he's definitely admitted to the pain he's playing through. When asked what causes his ankle to hurt in the practice before Game 1, he said "moving." In other words, everything. Matt's doing the best he can to grit his teeth and all things considered, he's making due with being dealt a lousy hand. But to my eye, the ankle is giving him periodic problems.
During the player suspension can other players interact with a teammate outside of basketball?
Hoopsxx: To the best of my knowledge. Metta is even allowed to practice. He just can't be in the building during games.
Once Metta returns, do you see Ebanks staying a part of the rotation?
Ali: I really hope so. I've been calling/complaining for Ebanks to play all season, and between his work filling in for Kobe and now MWP, Devin's both earned the minutes and demonstrated the value of keeping him on the floor. I think Brown can find ways to get Devin 10-15 minutes a night. Kobe will need a breather at times, and I'd rather see Ebanks at the two than Blake paired with Sessions. Defensively, that backcourt is a major liability. Also, as/if the Lakers progress further into the playoffs, Barnes may not be able to play as many minutes on that ankle. And who knows how MWP will play. In any event, there should be opportunities for Devin, and I hope Brown gives them to him.
Not disputing the World Peace suspension at all. I am just annoyed at how the NBA came to the conclusion. It seems as though they wait several days to let the talking heads determine the approproriate range of games, then they act. It's as if they don't have the testicular fortitude to make the decision the next morning. We all saw the highlights. I'd rather be a fan of a league that makes their own decisions than one who waits to try and appease the court of public opinion. It comes off rather false. For the record, I was thinking 3-5 games.
Lucas: Actually, I think the league was waiting to get more information on Harden's condition and make sure it appeared likely he'd be back for the postseason. The odds favored it, but you want to be sure, because MWP playing while Harden is out presents a delicate PR situation. Whether that should or shouldn't affect their decision, it's also reality. Plus, the Lakers also had almost four days between the OKC and Sacto games, so there really was no hurry to make a decision.
What's harder to believe? Pujols being homerless this year or Dee Gordon getting his first career homerun before Pujols this season?
Hank: Can't it be both? haha
Outside of the Heat's superstar trio do we have the best "Big 3" in the NBA?
Shawn D: You could make an argument for OKC's trio of Durant/Westbrook and Harden, I guess. They're younger, faster and more explosive. But on the flip side, exceptionally talented as they may be, they don't present the same size and variety of options as the Lakers' big 3. And the Lakers' trio moves the ball much better. I'd vote for the Laker 3, but it's probably close to a coin flip.
How important will it be for the Lakers to have a good 3pt shooting % in Denver for Games 3 and 4 to help offset the crowd?
Eric T: It's always important the Lakers hit their 3's, regardless of where they're playing. When the Lakers hit outside shots, they become a far more dangerous team.
You guys have mentioned that you are not as "emotionally invested" in the Lakers as we fans are. So which teams (including other sports) are you emotionally invested in?
Skool: Actually, that's not true. I'm quite emotionally invested in the Lakers. I've been a big fan of the team long before I had this job. I care a lot about them winning a title. What I (and Brian, I guess) have said is that we don't allow our emotions to color the way we cover the team. In other words, we're not homers or cheerleaders. We're paid to cover them objectively. Land O' Lakers isn't a fan blog. Not that there's anything wrong with a fan blog, but it's just different from what we do.
How has the Denver series so far changed your perception about the Lakers playoff run, if at all?It certainly seems like they are playing much better to me, with Kobe actually playing defense and the ball moving well on offense. Of course, that might just be due to Denver's overall weak defense compared to other playoff teams.
Tom: I must admit, I've been impressed by the Lakers in these two games. Game 2 was much closer to what I expected for this entire series: Competitive, close games, but the Lakers have been largely in control, and everyone is doing a terrific job knowing and honoring their roles. I'm still not convinced they can beat either San Antonio or OKC in a seven-game series, but give credit where credit is due. The Lakers are playing some good ball at the moment.
How do you anticipate the Lakers adjusting to limit Denver's fast-break opportunities? Is it just a question of shot selection or effort? It seems like the Nuggets are just praying the Lakers miss and leaking out early to get uncontested layups. It worked in game 2.
Jon: That's a great question. In the first half of Game 2, the Lakers shot at a very efficient clip and took good care of the ball, and yet Denver still managed to run on nearly every possession. It was astonishing at times, and definitely took some time for the Lakers to adjust. Beyond making sure to avoid situations that may create transition chances for Denver, they may just have to be exceptionally conscientious of getting back on EVERY SINGLE POSSESSION.
The Lakers' confidence is probably the highest it's been all season. Plus, with most NBA fans and the media doubting the Lakers, I think they can pull it off. Remember last time they said Kobe wouldn't win, he won two straight.
What do you think of the OKC-Dallas series? I think OKC has shown that they are beatable and Dallas could be up 2-0 right now if they closed out games better.
Janet: I hear what you're saying, but the flip side is, OKC has won both games, and Durant has shot poorly each time. Once he gets going (and you assume he will), things may swing further in OKC's direction. Dallas has looked better than I expected in this series, and I respect the fight they're giving OKC. But they've done themselves a major disservice not closing out either game for a win. In the playoffs, there's no solace in "close."
I kind of laugh it off when Steve Kerr suggested that Kobe's block on Harrington was Lebron-esque. Does nobody remember that Kobe practically patented the "chase-down" block waaaay before lebron got in the league?
Paulo: I hope for Kobe's sake he actually did patent it. Between LBJ and Wade alone, he could make a lot of money through royalties. You can never have enough dough in the kitty.
In a podcast, didn't a Kam-bro say Steve Blake needed to have a big game? Does his 3 for 3 from 3 Game 1 count or does he need to have a few more clutch performances during each round of the playoffs?
Michael: It needs to happen at least once per round, and probably even twice. Not necessarily a monster game, but a game where he majes a tangible difference. Or at the very least, he has to avoid repeats of Game 2, where he was pretty bad.
Do you think the Lakers win both games in Denver for the sweep?
T: Probably not. I'm actually expecting the series to continue more like Game 2, which was much closer and competitive. Given how the next 2 games are in Denver, I think they'll take at least one. But the Lakers are in control of the series, which is what matters most.
Although Kobe had a great game 2, his performance actually worried me because of the decreased ball movement and reduced activity of his teammates...thoughts?
Steven S: It's a fair concern. Kobe canned a lot of difficult shots, which can't necessarily be counted on from game to game. And in the meantime, the Lakers are rarely at their best when the ball doesn't move. I don't say this to take away from Kobe's performance, because as I wrote in my Rapid Reaction game summary, dude was brilliant. And on both sides of the ball to boot. But there always has to be a mindfulness to keep the ball moving, because that's when the Lakers are toughest to defend.
It's not a sizable number but after 2 games do you think Mike Brown has done well in the coaching department?
Scott: Mike Brown has taken a lot of heat over the season, and I've been among those questioning him throughout the season. Thus, when things are going this well, he should rightly receive a lot of praise. It's early, but two games in, I have no complaints whatsoever about the job he's doing.
I love Pau. That's partly why I am glad the CP3 trade didn't go through (though I would have loved it). I feel like his contributions never quite make the stat line though. Sure he dishes out plenty of assists for a big man, but I feel that even more often he makes the pass before the pass. Just a great passer. Thoughts? And thoughts on how Pau needs to play up in Denver?
Michael: I couldn't agree more. Pau will never get the credit he deserves for the Lakers' success. Beyond the talent, his willingness to dial back his own game for the sake of the bigger picture is both rare and valuable. Few players of his stature are so giving towards the group philosophy. He's an exceptionally good teammate. Yes, there are games where he's not aggressive enough and he didn't show up in last year's playoffs. But by and large, the dude does so much, and it will never be "enough" for a lot of fans.
Alrighty, folks. Gotta wrap. There will be more coverage and a podcast coming over the next two days, and sure to drop by the blog Friday after Game 3 for Lakers Late Night. Also, Brian and I will be filling in for John Ireland on Mason and Ireland from 2-6 pm PT on 710 ESPN. Give us a listen if you can. Thanks.